Middle East

Ahed Tamimi: Palestinian slap video teen gets eight months in plea deal

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Media captionIs a slap terrorism?

A Palestinian teenager arrested after slapping an Israeli soldier has accepted a plea deal that will see her serve eight months in prison.

Ahed Tamimi had agreed to plead guilty to four of the 12 charges she faced, including assault, her lawyer said.

She will also pay a fine of 5,000 shekels ($1,440) and accept a further eight-month jail term, suspended.

The 17 year old was detained after being filmed confronting two armed soldiers outside her home in December.

The court's decision means she will be released this summer because the sentence includes time served, her lawyer Gaby Lasky was quoted by AFP news agency as saying.

For Palestinians, Ahed Tamimi, who was 16 at the time of the incident in the occupied West Bank, is a symbol of resistance to Israeli occupation. But many Israelis regard her as a violent troublemaker seeking publicity.

Her trial opened behind closed doors at the Ofer military court in the occupied West Bank on 13 February. Her lawyer asked to have the trial open to the public, but a judge ruled that proceedings be conducted in camera for "the minor's benefit".

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ahed Tamimi's trial opened behind closed doors at a military court on 13 February

Ahed Tamimi would plead guilty to one count of assault, one of incitement, and two of obstructing soldiers, Ms Lasky said.

Asked why she had agreed to a plea deal, Ms Lasky said: "When they decided to keep her trial behind closed doors, we knew that we were not going to get a fair trial."


Ahed Tamimi was filmed by her mother, Nariman, confronting two armed soldiers in the driveway of her family home in the village of Nabi Saleh on 15 December, following a protest against the US recognition of Jerusalem as Israel's capital.

The incident was streamed on Nariman Tamimi's Facebook page and video of the confrontation went viral. In the footage she kicks one soldier and slaps his face, and threatens to punch the other.

Ahed Tamimi was arrested in a night-time raid days later and charged with 12 counts assault, incitement, interference with soldiers, and stone throwing.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption An online petition calling for Ahed Tamimi's release has gathered 1.75m signatures

Her mother was also charged with incitement on social media and assault, while her cousin Nour, who participated in the incident, was charged with assault.

Ms Lasky said on Wednesday that they had also agreed plea deals, with Nariman Tamimi sentenced to eight months and Nour Tamimi to 16 days.

Ahed Tamimi told a pre-trial hearing that she had lashed out at the soldiers because she had seen them shoot her 15-year-old cousin Mohammed in the head with a rubber bullet that same day.

The Israeli military said it had dispatched the soldiers to the Tamimis' home, where Palestinian youths had been throwing stones at troops sent to quell violent protests.

Image copyright AFP
Image caption Ahed Tamimi said she lashed out after her cousin was hit in the head by a rubber bullet

It also later contested the cause of Mohammed's head injury, saying last month that the boy had told interrogators that he sustained it from falling off a bike.

Ahed Tamimi's case sparked an outpouring of deeply opposing views between Israelis and Palestinians.

Following the incident, Israel's Education Minister Naftali Bennett said Ahed and Nour Tamimi deserved to "finish their lives in prison".

Many Israelis say Ahed Tamimi has long been exploited by her family, who they accuse of using her to try to provoke Israeli soldiers on film.

She first came to public prominence when, aged 11, she appeared in another video threatening to punch a different soldier.

Image copyright YouTube
Image caption Ahed Tamimi was seen threatening to punch a soldier when she was aged 11

Two years ago, she was seen in a viral video biting the hand of an Israeli soldier who had detained her brother on suspicion of throwing stones.

For Palestinians, she has become a national icon for what they see as acts of bravery in standing up to armed soldiers on occupied land.

Her face has appeared on street murals and posters, while an online petition organised by her father calling for her release has gathered 1.75m signatures.

Human rights groups said her case highlighted what they considered Israel's harsh treatment of Palestinian minors.

"Ahed will be home in a few months, but Israel is putting this child behind bars for eight months for calling for protests and slapping a soldier, after threatening her with years in jail," said Sarah Leah Whitson of Human Rights Watch.

"Plea bargains are the norm in Israel's military justice system, which is characterised by prolonged pre-trial detention, abuse of kids and sham trials. Hundreds of Palestinian children remain locked up with little attention on their cases," she added.

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